Australian Natural Adventures
nature travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific
Rotorua, about 5 hours south of Auckland by road, and a 40 minute flight, is home to the center of Maori culture. It is a geothermal region, with bubbling mud and chemical pools, which can easily be found by just, and literally, following your nose. Many houses use the steam from underground to heat their homes, and outlet pipes can be seen emitting their puffs of white steam. Overall, it's a strange place for a town.
A few minutes outside town at the base of Mt Ngongotaha is Mitai Village, the home of a Maori family, descendents of the local tribe of Te Arawa. The area, with its resurrected whare (houses) from the old village has been remade into a showcase for the Maori culture.
A visit can start with a guided tour through the forests and gardens to the Fairy Springs, where trout can be seen in crystal clear water. Along the way your guide will describe traditional Maori medicine and food plants, and how they were used.
Back in the main area, or if you visit just for the cultural show and hangi, you are greeted by the haka, the warrior greeting. This can raise the hackles on your neck a little, and as a warrior race, it is meant to!
However, it is also a welcome, and you will be made to feel just so. Once seated insid you enjoy Maori dances, weapons displays and other cultural aspects of a way of life first begun in these islands about 1,000 years earlier.
Finally the meal, composed of both the hangi food - slow cooked in an earthern pit - and more modern New Zealand fare, showcasing the fusion of ancient ways with the abundance of New Zealands waters and farmlands.
The Mitai Village experience is not to be missed when in New Zealand.